There are several types of dresses in this world, but none quite as powerful as the mighty LBD. In fact, longtime Chanel Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld famously said: “One is never overdressed or underdressed with a little black dress.” It’s true: Wear a black dress, and it’s pretty hard to go wrong whether you’re at the office, out with friends, or off to a black tie affair.
That said, not all black dresses are equal—there are certain types of black dresses that every woman should have in her fashion arsenal.
Here, we break down the 7 types of black dresses every woman should own, and how to wear them.
1. A Casual Maxi
Look effortlessly glamorous in a casual black maxi dress to do everything from a day of errands, to brunch with friends, to even an informal date. The best part? While you’ll look great, you’ll also be entirely comfortable.
How To Wear It: In the summer, all you need to make this outfit work is a pair of chic gladiator sandals. When the weather is colder, pair it with ankle boots and a motorcycle jacket.
2. A Slip Dress
Slip dresses have been a huge trend on the runways lately. Nothing is as timelessly sexy as a black slip style, which can be dressed up or down depending on what you pair it with. You can even layer a slip dress over a henley for more of a grunge look.
How To Wear It: Pair it with an oversized menswear inspired sweater for a more causal vibe, or—if you’re going for va-va-voom, all you need is a strappy pair of sandals.
3. A Sheath Dress
It’s hard to go wrong in a classic black sheath dress, perfect for more formal days at the office. Another bonus of the look? It transitions perfectly from day to night with the addition of statement jewelry and a change of shoes.
How To Wear It: Pair it with classic black pumps and a blazer for the office, and strappy sandals and a statement necklace for cocktail affairs.
4. A Flared Dress
This classic 1950s silhouette feels just as in style today, and is a great addition to any wardrobe.
How To Wear It: For a more casual look pair it with ballet flats, and for evening, this style of dress would look perfect with a pair of jewel-toned satin pumps.
5. A Lace Dress
A classic black dress just seems so much more glamorous when created in lace. Dolce & Gabbana can’t get enough of this look in recent collections, and great variations abound at less expensive retailers like Zara and H&M, too.
How To Wear It: Keep it simple, with classic pumps and a ladylike bag. If you really want to channel D&G’s glamorous take, add big statement earrings and deep red lipstick.
6. A Party Dress
Whether bejeweled, feathered, or with transparent panels, every woman should have a black party dress in her closet that makes her look (and feel) extra-festive.
How To Wear It: Let the dress shine, and keep your accessories to a minimum.
7. A fabulous gown
Dressing for a black tie occasion can be tough, which is why every woman should have a black gown at the ready which she can accessorize differently depending on what kind of event you’re going to.
How To Wear It: Chandelier earrings, a collar necklace, or gold cuff bracelets will up the drama, while playing with hair and makeup can make the same dress look totally different.
Originally published April 2014. Updated May 2017.